I guess there’s always something we wish we could forget, but normally it’s something bad. I have a situation where the memory is actually a wonderful memory and held so much meaning for me. The problem is, it is kind of holding me back and I need to be able to move on from the past. Remembering is making this impossible. The memory pops up at the oddest times, and I just wish there was a way I could forget it. Is there any way I can do that?

It might seem counterintuitive that a significant, pleasant memory could actually create painful or difficult feelings for us. However, when we recognise that the event itself isn’t influencing our feelings or actions directly, but is doing so instead through the meaning we are making of the event, we can begin to explore alternative meanings and expand our choices. While that sounds like a good idea, knowing how to begin to recognise thoughts or meanings as separate from the event can be difficult. There are, however, steps that may help anyone in this situation begin to discover and disentangle the thoughts from the event. I would encourage you to treat these thoughts like a scientist who works with a non-judgmental, objective approach to discovering what may be contributing to the end effect. Viewing this as an experiment may help you uncover more information versus getting caught up in the thoughts and feelings.

I get panic attacks every time I leave home or even talk to someone on the phone. I need help to overcome this issue. Please, help!

Anxiety and panic are unpleasant, to put it mildly, so it’s natural to want to escape those situations, and to avoid them altogether if possible. There are resources online that provide more information as to the steps involved in systematic desensitisation and behaviourally treating social anxiety and agoraphobia, so searching under those terms is a good place to start. Many people find it helpful to undergo the treatment programme with the aid of a behavioural therapist.